Pop ode to classics •

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All started from the question: “Why did classical music decline?” This is the title of an article published in the form of an article by a fan of this very classical music. Then the post, in turn, was overgrown with many answers – and for good reason: the topic is touching.

First of all, about the subject of conversation: classical music. What is it, actually? Memory helpfully throws up great names – Bach, Mozart,…,… – the list is extensive. It is impossible to surpass them – geniuses. Who of our contemporaries could stand by? Probably, someone will still be able to, but in the final form, this list will form only time. Many insanely popular musicians and composers were later completely forgotten – and vice versa.

And classical music, in the established sense, is determined by musical instruments – acoustic, of course. Stringed bows and plucked, woodwinds and brass, percussion. There is an established set of forms and genres, although all this, you will agree, can not be static. Otherwise, how to answer the question, what kind of music will be considered classical in 200 years? (“If only something would happen to us in 200 years” ©).

On the other hand, if you try to systematize the formal features of what is considered classical music, today the list will look something like this:

Classical music

– performed on acoustic instruments;

– written by a composer with a special education;

– performed exclusively by musicians with special education;

– used in the training of musicians and composers;

– does not provide for listening in parallel with entertainment, eating, drinking alcohol;

– requires for the perception of a certain training, in practice, the same special education;

– requires high-quality equipment for playback.

Something unexpected list, right? But, agree, logical. All of these points can be criticized, but let’s make a remark: they are 80 percent real. After all, The Beatles’ work is now taught in many conservatories – and many musicologists (and non-musicologists – and even more so!) Consider the Beatles a classic. And not just them alone.

Many authors and performers from the “latest” history of music have approached this bar, who did not create symphonies and cantatas, but are insanely popular. And – oh horror! – Some of them simply do not know (at least in the beginning did not know) notes. Let’s think of people like Jeff Lynne (ELO) or Francis Lai (Francis Lai, although his name in French sounds like “Le”), who created a lot of great melodies. The arranger knows the notes, the composer can do without them. That’s how many songs were written – and it’s okay.

But all such exceptions, you will agree, only confirm the rules. And they, these rules (or rather, the properties and features of classical music), beat back on the popularity of “classical music in the usual sense.”

Here is what is meant: by its nature, classical music implies limited access – both to performance and to listening. Imagine an excerpt from an interview: “There were a lot of melodies in my head. And then my friends and I decided to gather in my father’s garage to write a couple of symphonies – then it seemed to us that it would raise our popularity among classmates and, most importantly, familiar girls.

No, guys, it won’t roll. To create a traditional classic, you will need to get into music school at the age of 6, memorize all these scales, tonalities, sizes, intervals, gain technique, struggling with an instrument that you still have to grow up with in the beginning. Then you have to get a higher musical education and more. And all this in order to brilliantly play two bars on your oboe?

Compare: buying a cheap electric guitar (computer with a midi keyboard, DJ turntable, etc.) you get everything you need to become a star. Even if your parents didn’t have the money and you had the perseverance to complete at least a basic solfeggio course.

Popular music (or what is meant by this phrase for the last hundred years) is a much more accessible and democratic classic. The result is mass. This means that many more talents are starting to work in this area. Which in turn increases its popularity. The circle closed.

And this is just one of the factors. There are others. Let’s compare two concerts. Here comes a popular band or symphony orchestra to a provincial town. From the point of view of the producer the first variant is incomparably more favorable. The group together with the equipment for the hall for 500-700 seats will fit in a minibus. The orchestra, even in a small composition, will require more transport, to put it mildly. Then the hotel. Compare a maximum of 4 numbers or a minimum of 40… Plus food, business trips, invoices, contingencies. And the agile producer (director of the group), meanwhile, in disguise, organizes a couple of concerts with afterparties at local clubs. With a symphony orchestra it will not work…

Why was a symphony orchestra chosen for comparison and not a chamber trio? Just the minimal tour audio set of the band gives it the opportunity to create such a sound impact (and emotional, if the band is worth anything), which can be compared only to a full symphony orchestra. And for success, other things being equal, it is, you will agree, important.

It is clear that this example is in the realities and terms of the post-Soviet space, but believe me, the situation is similar everywhere. And yes, we have to admit: the audience of a popular band is obviously larger than that of an equal “weight” band or performer of classical music.

Then there are terms like “profitability”, “payback”, “capitalization”. The proper level of these values ​​is achieved only by a few of the performers of the classics, who have reached world importance. While in pop music there is enough district scale.

If we compare Vivaldi’s time and modernity, it is worth remembering that before the invention of electricity, music was in great demand. One can only imagine the emotional state of a villager who first heard a textbook brass band in a textbook city garden.

Now it is a completely different matter. Count how many speakers there are in your home. Do not forget laptops, smartphones, cameras, headphones – music sounds, as they say, “from every iron.” Until there is an obsessive desire to finally cut it all down. Devaluation.

And in the last 50 years, music has had many competitors. They were eventually added to human life by the same electricity. The advent of the Internet and game consoles has brought the initially innocuous situation to its current state.

Let’s remember: 14-15 year olds from the 70s of the last century (the age when, according to psychologists, musical taste is formed and music is especially well remembered) listened to the radio, turned their turntables or tape recorders just drunk. The parable in tongues is the image of the patlato lobotryas shaking over the discs “on the bones” (later – bobbins, even later – cassettes). And still – no symphonies. Ask the surviving representatives of those generations – they will confirm.

The interests of today’s teenagers are switched to computer gadgets online. For many of them, only 3 pastime options are acceptable – play, “stick” or “chat”. Externally, these types of activities are indistinguishable. A common feature of the generation is a face lit by the pale light of the monitor and a frail body in complete stillness. And yes, there are catastrophically few musicians among these options. Is that popular. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but they are few and – remember? – only confirm much of the above.

At this point, the author shrugs his head, realizing that readers do not intend to relentlessly tolerate all this undiluted negativity. But is it negative? After all, in fact, the classics live and develop. Yes, it is expensive, yes, in a good sense elitist and not in the worst – prestigious.

Let’s remember what was said at the very beginning: serious music requires serious preparation. It is important that not only from the authors and performers, but also from the listeners, and almost equally. Many experienced music lovers, who started as fans of various styles, from heavy metal to Eurodisco, have changed their preferences with age. They admit that now they enjoy listening to jazz and with no less pleasure – the classics.

This is especially true for audiophiles. The higher the class of your sound setup (unless it is assembled in person and for the pleasure of music, and not for the effect of “wow” for guests who may come to barbecue on the weekend), the greater the temptation to listen to classics.

After all, by and large, an expensive Hi-Fi kit is not needed for electronic waveforms artificially assembled into computer samples. Do you need high fidelity to reproduce sounds that do not exist in nature? Synthesizers and other electromusical instruments can be piled up in the same pile – the electric guitar signal is already known to be distorted, no matter it’s distortion (distortion, by the way, there is a “distortion” in English), just overdrive or something from a lot of lotions and processors combined in a grand closet. And if your equipment (or just a smartphone with disposable plugs) distorts all this additionally and powerfully – it can easily be credited as a plus.

But often it is audiophiles with their reference audio components, come exclusively to “unplagd”, acoustic tracks, and through them – to the classics. In many respects, this is what a significant part of its elitism is now. Partly for this reason, opinions that the classics are “dying out” are, to put it mildly, untenable.

Many modern composers, known for pop music, turn to classical compositions and forms – ask about the discography of the same Paul McCartney. The masses are Schnittke, The Rolling Stones, Philip Glass, Golijov, Boulez, Stockhausen or Caroline Shaw.

I deliberately pile everything up – I’m just not allowed to know which of them really claims the title of classic (I can’t wait 200 years). But I believe that at least someone – for sure!

And, in addition, help for the genre of classical music came from nowhere. Cinema has become a new source of repertoire for symphony orchestras and small classical ensembles. Think of an inspirational theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. Although, to be honest, the standard for me in this genre are the works of Ennio Morricone.

The epicness of many soundtracks easily surpasses everything previously heard by Beethoven or Wagner (sorry, sorry for the sedition). Names – mass. John Williams in Star Wars, Howard Shore in The Lord of the Rings, Hans Zimmer, starting with The Da Vinci Code and Interstellar, and ending with The Dune. He, by the way, last year together wrote anthem for FC Krasnodar. In any case, there is something to listen to, and all this, sooner or later, appears in independent releases, both in numbers and on analog vinyl.

Another source of classics for the future is a musical. Most likely, in the already classic (you see!) Broadway sense. Half a century ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber and his Jesus Christ Superstar appeared on this foundation in our minds (ask, he wrote two more operas before that). However, he is not alone. The musical as a genre will surely add to the library of classics not one of its best examples.

This concludes my ode to the classics. As for its features mentioned in the title, let’s remember: some textbook classics in the past were written to order as an accompaniment to eating, just… Which does not prevent you from enjoying this wonderful music. For centuries.

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